( dpa )- A former US congressman has been indicted in connection to a terrorist financing conspiracy that sent money to al- Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan, the US Justice Department said Wednesday.
Mark Deli Siljander , who was elected from Michigan to the US House of Representatives from 1981-87 was appointed as a delegate to the United Nations by then-president Ronald Reagan, was charged with money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
According to the indictment unsealed in a federal court in Kansas City, Missouri, Siljander , 57, was hired by a charity shut down by the US government in 2004 after for connections to terrorism.
The charity, formerly known as the Islamic African Relief Agency (IARA), allegedly paid Siljander 50,000 dollars in stolen US government money to lobby Congress to remove the organization from a list of groups with suspected terrorist links. The money was later laundered into bank accounts, prosecutors said.
The Justice Department charges that IARA funneled money to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar , an Afghan mujahedin leader designated as a terrorist, who has supported attacks by the Taliban militia and al- Qaeda, the terrorist network led by Osama bin Laden.
Siljander allegedly lied to investigators about his lobbying effort, saying that the money was a donation to help him write a book about bridging the gap between Islam and Christianity.
IARA and five of its officers, employees and associates were charged in a 33-count March 2007 indictment with illegally transferring money to Iraq in violation of US sanctions prior to the 2003 toppling of the Baghdad regime, and for stealing US government money.
Among those named in the indictment are Ali Mohamed Bagegni , 53, a Libyan-born US citizen and former member of the IARA board of directors and Mubarek Hamed , 51, a Sudanese-born US citizen who was the former director of the charity.
The government charges that Bagegbi and Hamed had entered into 2- million-dollar contract with the US Agency for International Development to do work in Mali. Because IARA was unable to match the funds provided by the US government, the contract was terminated.
Hamed and Bagegni kept about 84,000 dollars that was supposed to be returned to the US government under the contract. That money was used to pay Siljander , the indictment alleges.